Wakefield Trinity 12 Hull KR 56: Rovers run riot to secure home tie in dramatic finish

Hull KR secured fourth spot and a home play-off tie against Leigh Leopards on a night of high drama in Super League.

Rovers knew they needed to rack up the points to leapfrog their Challenge Cup foes and did not disappoint, running riot in the final half-hour to take advantage of Leigh's narrow defeat to Wigan Warriors.

As Wigan toasted their League Leaders' Shield success, the news of their victory filtered through to the large travelling contingent inside Belle Vue who celebrated with Willie Peters' side after matching the club's highest-ever Super League finish.

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The Robins will host Leigh next Friday and must fancy their chances of avenging their Wembley heartache after putting relegated Wakefield Trinity to the sword with Brad Schneider and Mikey Lewis in scintillating form.

As Rovers continue to dream of Old Trafford, it is the end of an era at Belle Vue.

The Wakefield that begins life in the Championship will be markedly different to the version that leaves the top flight with regrets.

Led by chief executive Michael Carter and chairman John Minards, Trinity failed to equip head coach Mark Applegarth with a squad that could stand up to the rigours of Super League.

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The club have pointed to a lack of funds but Trinity's financial situation is set to improve as a consortium led by local businessman Matt Ellis prepares to take charge.

Matty Storton crashes over for the Robins. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)Matty Storton crashes over for the Robins. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)
Matty Storton crashes over for the Robins. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

Although the prospective new owners will begin their tenure in the Championship, IMG's new grading system offers hope of a swift return to Super League.

Whether Carter or Minards are kept on in some capacity remains to be seen but Applegarth appears certain to leave his post and be replaced by Daryl Powell, while the squad will undergo major surgery in the off-season.

Wakefield could do worse than to use Hull KR as an example of what can be achieved following a reset in the Championship.

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While it took the club several years to find their feet after returning to Super League in 2018, relegation gave Rovers the jolt they needed.

Hull KR celebrate Jack Walker's opening try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)Hull KR celebrate Jack Walker's opening try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)
Hull KR celebrate Jack Walker's opening try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

Now backed by a wealthy board, the Robins are the envy of not only Trinity but the rest of their Super League rivals outside of the established big hitters.

The Challenge Cup finalists booked their play-off place with one round to spare and head into the tie against Leigh with momentum behind them as they aim for a fourth semi-final appearance in two years.

Peters' men were simply too good for a deflated Wakefield in a fifth straight win.

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Rovers shrugged off the loss of back-rower Dean Hadley in the warm-up to score two tries inside the opening 10 minutes.

Matty Ashurst applauds the Wakefield fans at full-time. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)Matty Ashurst applauds the Wakefield fans at full-time. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)
Matty Ashurst applauds the Wakefield fans at full-time. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

Former Trinity forward James Batchelor played an important hand in the opener, easing through a hole in the defence before offloading to Lewis who chipped over the top for Hull FC-bound Jack Walker to finish.

Lewis was taken out by Max Jowitt as he chased his own kick but the half-back did not have to wait much longer for his try.

With Wakefield preoccupied by the imposing figures of Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Ryan Hall on the left edge, Lewis stepped back inside to score with worrying ease from a home perspective.

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There was a sense Trinity would crumble on the back of last week's golden-point heartbreak at Leigh but they belatedly lifted their intensity to let their visitors know they were in a game.

Hugo Salabio injected much-needed enthusiasm from the bench and left his mark on Rovers ball carriers with a series of forceful hits.

The Robins were officially rocking after gifting Wakefield a route back into the game.

Schneider failed to find touch from a penalty and was punished by Kelepi Tanginoa later in the set, the powerful forward swatting Lewis aside to storm over out wide.

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KR restored their advantage six minutes from the break when Trinity were penalised in possession 20 metres from their own line and Matty Storton crashed over from Lewis' pass on the last tackle.

Schneider added his third conversion to give the Robins a commanding 18-6 lead at the break but back came Wakefield, Liam Kay racing in from Luke Gale's long pass shortly after the restart.

That was as good as it got for Trinity as the floodgates opened.

Schneider went over under the posts and Rovers had a golden opportunity to rack up points when Jowitt was sin-binned for taking out Lewis following a kick.

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The Robins made the full-back pay a heavy price for his indiscretion with three tries in his absence.

Schneider laid on a try for Tom Opacic with a neat kick in behind and was celebrating his second after dummying and stepping his way over.

Storton completed his brace following a break by Lewis and the half-back repeated the trick to send Ryan Hall over.

Jez Litten helped himself to a double in the dying minutes after backing up two breaks, the second created by the outstanding Lewis.

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On this evidence, Leigh will not be relishing a trip to Craven Park.

Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Kay, Pratt, Croft, Kershaw, Dagger, Gale, Atoni, Hood, Bowden, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Pitts. Substitutes: H Smith, Battye, Salabio, Schofield.

Hull KR: Walker, Senior, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Lewis, Schneider, Luckley, Parcell, King, Batchelor, Storton, Minchella. Substitutes: Abdull, Sue, Litten, Aydin.

Referee: Chris Kendall.

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